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Steelers release tight end Ladarius Green after failed physical

Chris Adamski
| Thursday, May 18, 2017, 3:33 p.m.

Fourteen months and six games played after agreeing to a four-year, $20 million contract, the Steelers and Ladarius Green parted ways Thursday.

The tight end was released with the designation of failed physical, the Steelers announced. Green was besieged by an ankle injury and concussion issues throughout almost all of his brief tenure with the team.

The Steelers released longtime long snapper Greg Warren earlier in the day.

Signed as a replacement after longtime tight end Heath Miller retired early in 2016, Green arrived amid great promise and optimism he could be a different type of offensive weapon in the receiving game. The 6-foot-6 tight end had shown spurts of that as the primary backup to possible future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates over four seasons with the San Diego Chargers.

The Steelers gave Green a $4.75 million signing bonus as one of the highest-profile unrestricted free agents the Steelers have ever signed from another team.

But Green struggled to even get on the practice field for the Steelers. Recovery from left ankle surgery lagged throughout the offseason, and Green sat out organized team activities, minicamp and training camp. He remained on the physically unable to perform list over the first half of the season, being restricted to – at most – running on his own or catching passes while on a field away from his new teammates.

He returned for the Nov. 13 game against Dallas and, after getting eased back into the game plan, had his best game Dec. 4 against the New York Giants (six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown). But a concussion suffered two weeks later as the result of a hit by the Cincinnati Bengals' George Iloka ultimately ended his season.

Green had a concussion history with the Chargers in 2015 prior to his signing with the Steelers.

His departure leaves Jesse James as the Steelers' top tight end. David Johnson and Xavier Grimble also return from last season, and undrafted rookies Scott Orndoff and Phazahn Odom were added to the roster in recent weeks.

While the Steelers save the $5 million in base salary – and salary-cap space – that Green was due this year, they will have to account for three-quarters of Green's signing bonus on their 2017 cap. That means $3,562,500 in "dead money." Still, the move nets the team about $2.6 million of space this season.

The Steelers added running back Terrell Watson to their roster. Watson is joining his fifth team in the 25 months since he was eligible for the 2015 draft. He played in the season finale for the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

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